MD-PhD Program in Medicine, the Social Sciences, and Humanities

The program in Medicine, the Social Sciences and Humanities (MeSH) at the University of Chicago trains medical students to become innovative physician-scholars at the critical interface of medicine and society. The MeSH program is an opportunity for students interested in obtaining an MD and a PhD in a field outside of the traditional biological and physical sciences. Former students have pursued their PhDs in such wide ranging fields as anthropology, economics, public policy and philosophy. Started in 1985, MeSH is one of the only programs of its kind in the country.

MeSH students typically begin their studies in graduate school for the first two years and then complete three years of medical school before returning to graduate school to complete PhD training. After completing the PhD, students return to medical school to finish their medical training. This sequence allows MeSH students to complete their graduate training efficiently while minimizing long breaks in their medical training.

Center for Health and Social Sciences (CHeSS)

After gaining admission, incoming MeSH students are integrated into the Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHeSS), where they receive administrative support, access to interdisciplinary workshops and courses, and mentorship.  Consisting of 3-4 faculty members from across the University, mentorship teams provide ongoing support and advisement to MeSH students as they progress through both medical school and their respective PhD programs. The core MeSH faculty, a cadre of institutionally and nationally prominent investigators, represent a wide range of federally and privately funded collaborative projects. They also provide MeSH students unique opportunities to participate in very cohesive, interactive health services research and social science groups throughout campus. 


Some students in the MeSH Program receive tuition and stipend support for their medical training at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Students apply for financial aid through the Pritzker School of Medicine for MD training and may receive additional funding through CHeSS and/or an NIH-funded training grant. Tuition and stipend support for graduate training come from the student’s PhD program. 

Students interested in MeSH may pursue a doctoral degree among any of the graduate programs relevant to the social sciences and humanities at the University of Chicago.

Prospective students must submit separate applications to both MeSH at the Pritzker School of Medicine and to any PhD programs of interest. Applicants should also review the MeSH FAQ page before applying. 

AMCAS Filing June 1 - November 15
AMCAS Deadline November 15
Secondary Application Deadline

Priority Consideration Deadline:
November 1

Final Deadline:
December 1 at 11:59 p.m. (CST)

PhD Program Application Deadlines Varies by PhD program
Letters of Recommendation Deadline December 1

Interview Dates

January 2022

Acceptance Notification February - March
Acceptance Response Deadline Varies by PhD program

1. AMCAS Application

The Pritzker School of Medicine utilizes the online American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). When completing the AMCAS application, MeSH applicants should 1) select the "Combined Medical Degree/PhD" program type, and 2) select "Other" under combined degree area(s). MD-PhD applicants have to fill out two additional AMCAS essays: 1) Stating their reasons for wishing to pursue the combined MD/PhD, and 2) Listing significant research experience.

2. Pritzker Secondary Application

Every student who submits an application through AMCAS will receive a Pritzker School of Medicine secondary application by email. When completing this application, MeSH applicants should select the MeSH application type at the beginning of the application and fill out the corresponding MeSH application. Please note that this form will ask the applicant to specify one or more University of Chicago PhD programs to which the applicant is applying. For additional information about the Secondary Application, please visit the Pritzker School of Medicine Admissions Process page. 

We recommend that prospective MeSH students submit all Pritzker Secondary application materials early in the application process; applicants are highly encouraged to submit their Pritzker secondary application by November 1. If you are submitting your application after this date, of if your AMCAS verification is not complete, please notify MeSH program administrator Kelsey Bogue.

3. Letters of Recommendation

As a MeSH applicant, you should be prepared with six letters of recommendation: 3 letters in support of your MD degree application and 3 additional letters supporting your PhD application. All six letters should be uploaded to AMCAS. For additional information about MD letters, please visit the Letters of Recommendation Tips.

Prospective candidates must also submit letters directly to each PhD program to which they are applying and should follow the letter requirements stipulated on each program’s webpage. If you would like Pritzker to share your recommendation letters with the PhD program(s) to which you are applying directly, please email the Pritzker admissions office.

Applicants may apply to one or more PhD program(s) related to the social sciences or humanities. Please note that many PhD programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences require that students take the GRE in addition to the MCAT. Please check each program’s website for specific test requirements.

Application deadlines vary based on PhD program. Applicants should visit the individual program websites for application instructions and deadlines.

Students interested in doctoral training in  Public Health Sciences may apply to MSTP, MeSH. or both MSTP and MeSH simultaneously.  Students interested in applying through MeSH must submit a separate PhD application to Public Health Sciences and are encouraged to review the FAQ on this page for additional guidelines. 

MeSH applicants will be screened by the MD and MeSH admissions committees. If favorably reviewed by the admissions committees, the applicant will be invited for an interview in January. Typically MeSH interviews take place over two days, with MD interviews taking place one day and PhD interview the other. Pritzker and MeSH provide funding to cover hotel expenses for one night.

Candidates must gain admissions to both the medical school and a PhD program to be a part of MeSH. For most candidates, decisions will be made in February or March. Accepted students will receive information about tuition and stipend support in their admissions letters.

Yes. MeSH applicants must apply both for admission to the Pritzker School of Medicine using the MD/MeSH application and to the University of Chicago PhD programs in which they are interested in obtaining their PhD.

Applicants apply to the Pritzker School of Medicine through the online AMCAS system

Prospective MeSH students are welcome to apply to any PhD program in the Social Sciences or Humanities Divisions. Applicants may also apply to the Department of Public Health Sciences in the Biological Sciences Division or to one of the following professional schools: Booth School of Business, Divinity School, Harris School of Public Policy, or Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. 

Students interested in the quantitative social sciences and/or the study of aging are strongly encouraged to apply. Common PhD programs of MeSH students are listed in Areas of Study above. 

Absolutely. In fact, if more than one PhD program seems to be relevant to your interests, you are encouraged to apply to multiple PhD programs. This may improve your chances of acceptance to a PhD program and will provide more opportunities to receive a desirable financial aid package for your PhD studies. If you apply to more than one PhD program, please list all the PhD programs to which you are applying in the space provided on the MeSH supplemental application.

Most likely. Most PhD programs in the social sciences require submission of GRE scores. Applicants need to check the application requirements of the University graduate programs to which they plan to apply.

For your Pritzker Secondary Application, you should submit recommendation letters according to the MSTP guidelines. This means you should submit letters (no more than 3) from individuals familiar with your research. You can submit up to six letters total. Please note that you will also have to submit letters with your PhD program applications. 

You may apply to the MeSH National Track program if you have already started your training at the Pritzker School of Medicine. 

Students typically apply to either the MSTP or to the MeSH program, because these programs are fundamentally different. The main difference in the application process is that students applying to MeSH are seeking a PhD in the social sciences, humanities, or related professional schools (such as the Harris School of Public Policy). MeSH students must apply separately to any PhD program(s) of interest. MSTP students work with faculty members in the biological or physical sciences, and they earn their PhD through the Interdisciplinary Scientist Training Program, the PhD-granting arm of the MSTP.

Students interested in studying public health sciences may apply to MSTP and/or MeSH. Students who wish to be considered for both MSTP and MeSH should select MSTP on the Secondary Application and email MeSH program administrator Kelsey Bogue to confirm that they wish to be considered by both programs. To be considered for MeSH with a PhD in Public Health Sciences, applicants must submit a separate PhD application.

Yes. Because MeSH students apply separately to both MD and PhD programs, your MD application is automatically considered by both MeSH and the regular MD program. If both parties are interested, a joint interview invitation on behalf of Pritzker and MeSH will be issued. Applicants may be invited for the single day Pritzker interview if the candidate is only being considered by the regular MD program.

Yes, Because MeSH students apply separately to both MD and PhD programs, your PhD application is automatically considered by the regular PhD program for admissions. Students who have already begun medical school, and/or are applying to or enrolled in a medical school outside of the University of Chicago are encouraged to apply to the MeSH National Track.

Most MeSH students begin with 2 years of graduate school and then complete 3 years of medical school. Then, students return to their graduate training to complete their PhD before finishing their last year of medical school. The total number of years it takes to graduate from the MeSH program with both an MD and a PhD varies by PhD program. 

Center for Health and Social Sciences (CHeSS)
5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 1005
Chicago, IL 60637-5415
Attn: MeSH Program

Inquiries about the MeSH program may be directed to Kelsey Bogue at the Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHeSS). 

Name/Title Contact
David Meltzer, MD, PHD
MeSH Faculty Director 
Director, Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHeSS)

Kelsey Bogue
Director of Training Programs and Communications
Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHeSS)
(773) 702-4401
Ellen Cohen
Executive Director, Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHeSS) 
(773) 704-7449
Stacie Levine, MD
MeSH Co-Director
Linda Waite, PhD
MeSH Co-Director